Samuel P. Dinsmoor
Folk artist. Born: March 8, 1843, Ohio. Died: July 21, 1932, Lucas, Kansas.
Today the Garden of Eden in Lucas is considered one of the best grassroots arts sites in the United States. Newspaper articles of the 1920s and 1930s refer to creator, Samuel P. Dinsmoor as the "Second Adam." A retired schoolteacher and farmer, as well as a disabled Civil War veteran, Dinsmoor spent the last 25 years of his life constructing what he called "the most unique home, for living or dead, on earth." In 1907 Dinsmoore built his "cabin home" in the small central Kansas community of Lucas. Using 113 tons of cement, Dinsmoor went on to create the "Garden of Eden," depicting in sculpture his interpretation of the Bible and modern civilization as interpreted through his populist views.
The information available concerning Dinsmoor's early life is at best sketchy. We know he was born near Coolville, Ohio, on March 8, 1843. He served in the Union army during the Civil War observing 18 major battles, including the Battle of Gettysburg and the capture of Robert E. Lee. He taught school for five years in Illinois. On August 24, 1870 he married Mrs. Frances. A. (Barlow) Journey, a widow of considerable means. At some point in time Dinsmoor took up farming, moving to Kansas in the fall of 1888. For some unrecorded reason he moved to Nebraska in the fall of 1890 only to return to Russell County, Kansas the following year. In 1905 he retired and moved his family into town buying the quarter block in Lucas that was to become the "Garden of Eden." In the spring of 1917 the first Mrs. Dinsmoor died. Alone and deeply involved in the construction of the "Garden," Dinsmoor hired a young Czechoslovakian woman named Emilie Brozek as a housekeeper. When Emilie was twenty years old she married Dinsmoor, who was then 81. The marriage produced two children.
Although neither an architect nor an engineer, at age 64 Samuel P. Dinsmoor built his "cabin home." The home itself is quite remarkable, built like a log cabin out of native limestone. With the completion of the "cabin home," Dinsmoor set about to create the intertwining concrete sculptures that became his "Garden of Eden." He erected scaffolding and worked alone, hiring an assistant only to mix cement. He wanted the "Garden" to be durable so he began with steel reinforcements covered with chicken wire. The entire sculpture, which consists of more than 150 statues supported by 29 cement trees, stands approximately 40 feet high. On the west side Dinsmoor depicted his personal understanding of the Bible. The north side of the property tells the story of modern civilization. To further explain his views, Dinsmoor published a small guide book called. Pictorial History of the Cabin Home in Garden of Eden.
Entry: Dinsmoor, Samuel P.
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: August 2010
Date Modified: December 2012
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